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Surgical Checklists Cut Post-Op Complications

Significant reductions seen in wound infections and blood loss

MONDAY, June 2, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Surgical checklists reduce postoperative complications but have no significant effect on mortality, according to a review published in the June issue of Anesthesiology.

Brigid M. Gillespie, Ph.D., R.N., from Griffith University in Gold Coast, Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify studies evaluating the impact of surgical checklists on complication rates.

Seven cohort studies (37,339 patients) were included in meta-analyses. The researchers found that use of checklists led to a reduction in any complication (risk ratio [RR], 0.63; P < 0.0001; number needed to treat [NNT], 27), a reduction in wound infection (RR, 0.54; P = 0.0001; NNT, 34), and a reduction in blood loss (RR, 0.56; P = 0.0001; NNT, 33), compared to standard practice. Mortality (P = 0.191), pneumonia (P = 0.857), and unplanned return to the operating room (P = 0.068) were not reduced with checklists.

"Notwithstanding the lack of randomized controlled trials, our synthesis of the existing body of evidence suggests a relationship between checklist use in surgery and fewer postoperative complications," the authors write.

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